Transforming Your Retirement: What if Your Positive Expectations Created a Positive Retirement?

The images, beliefs and expectations you have of this “3rd Act” of life will greatly influence the outcomes. What you expect the coming years to be is a powerful factor in determining how it will go. Expectations are both conscious and subconscious. Our conscious expectations can be sabotaged by what is firmly planted in our subconscious as we are transforming our retirement.

By identifying attitudes and beliefs that may contradict and undermine our positive expectations, we can address them. Negative expectations can come from memories, past experiences, messages in advertising, characterizations from television or movies, etc. It is very valuable to unearth some of these, and writing will help in that process.

Take 3-5 minutes to write down responses to the following questions: + What did you think when others retired? + What memories do you have of your parents’ or other relatives’ retirements and the impact on their lives? + What do people say in whispers at retirement parties? + What advice or warnings have people given you about retirement?  + What are the messages on retirement cards? + What older characters from television or movies do you recall? What image of retirement and aging do they provide?

Look at what you have written. Are they mostly positive or negative? The positive messages and images are ones to hang onto, repeat, and develop into specific intentions and plans.

Negative messages and images are pervasive beyond our conscious awareness. What you have written in just a few minutes is an indication of that. The negatives at the conscious level can be changed with your action. As you identify the negatives at the subconscious level on an ongoing basis, you can address them also.

Become hyper-aware of the negatives and resist them, whether they are within you or from external influences. Be aware of the attitudes of the people you spend time with. Be aware of what you expose yourself to in reading, listening and viewing information.

Decide how you are going to deal with the negative people in your life. Often this means figuring out ways to limit your time in close proximity of them. A direct approach is sometimes best: tell them you have decided to be positive and look for the best in everything and invite them to join you in this. Maybe they would like to live more positively and just need the opportunity..

Decide how much negative news, commentary and entertainment you want flowing into your mind and change some listening and viewing habits.

Consistently take these steps, and your attitude and expectations will help you in transforming your retirement into a joyous and fulfilling time of life.

Transforming Your Retirement: What if Gratitude Were the Overriding Tone of Your Life?

Daily Gratitude Practice
If you are not already doing this, start a daily practice of writing a Gratitude List and really monitor how it changes your attitude. It’s very simple and most effective it you use a journal (a simple notebook is fine, or a folder in your computer) rather than scattered pieces of paper. That’s because looking back over a month, or a quarter, or a year can take you to a whole new level of gratitude. And if you don’t make it easy for yourself to do it, guess what? It likely won’t be done.

Write down 5-10 things every day for which you are grateful. If you’re not used to doing this, you may start with 5 per day; expand from there to 10 as you get into the rhythm of it. They don’t have to be huge things; in fact if you get into the habit of expressing gratitude for small things, it’s even more powerful.

Include things that you are grateful about in yourself. They may be attributes or attitudes; they may be things you did or didn’t do. As you make the change from employed to retired, measures of accomplishment and self-worth inevitably change. This is a way to acknowledge yourself in this new stage of transforming your retirement.

Writing these down at the end of the day is most beneficial as you more easily remember the day. It puts you in a positive state of mind that will lead to sleep. It just wraps up the day in a lovely package.

Gratitude as a Tool for Specific Situations

What I’ve just described is a Daily Gratitude Practice. You can also use the technique any time you are facing a situation about which you are ambivalent or conflicted. For example, list all of the things for which you’re grateful related to the change from employed to retired: I can sleep as late as I choose; I can choose with whom I spend my daytime hours; I’ll save money on clothes; and so on. You will note that these are all stated as positive statements, not the lack of the negative (I don’t have to wake to an alarm at the same time every morning). This can change your feelings about a situation, or perhaps identify an aspect of it that you do want to change in some way.

Transforming Your Retirement: 10 Questions to Shift Your Thoughts

“We live in the world our questions create.”      —David Cooperrider

Humans are estimated to have about 60,000 thoughts per day and 95% of those thoughts are the same from the previous day – which leaves us with only 5% new and creative thoughts. In addition, the majority of those thoughts are negative. (See Simple Capacity.com)

Take a few moments to think about the quote by David Cooperrider. What kinds of questions are most common in your mind? For many of us they are negative questions: What if this happens? What if that doesn’t happen? What if I don’t make it? LOTS of negative ‘what if’ questions swirl around our minds, especially in times of transition and change – like retirement! Transforming your retirement into a fulfilling time of life can be enhanced by changing this typical pattern.

Mindy Audlin has written a book, What If It All Goes Right?: Creating a New World of Peace, Prosperity & Possibility, which gives us a tool for changing our questions. It is available here: http://amzn.to/2m8Xk28

She encourages us to ask ourselves What If UP questions. Basically, the idea is to flip or reframe our negative thoughts or ‘what if’ questions into positive questions. Instead of ‘What if retirement is boring and I get depressed?’ say ‘What if I had a fabulous final segment of my life, filled with joy, contribution and fulfillment?’ If that kind of question dominates our thoughts, we are creating a very different reality.

Here are 10 positive ‘What If’ questions. They can provide a positive framework for your anticipation and planning for transforming your retirement. I will list them here and address each one in future posts.

1) What if gratitude were the over-riding tone of your life?                                           2) What if your positive expectations created a positive retirement?
3) What if you could learn about, learn to do, and do many things that bring you joy?
4) What if you were a person of extreme health, wellness and energy throughout your retirement years?
5) What if you made significant contributions of many kinds to family, community and the world in the coming years?
6) What if the next phase of your spiritual/faith journey was invigorating and joyful beyond imagination?
7) What if you left a stunning legacy to your family and others?
8) What if you generated any needed money in creative, fulfilling ways?
9) What if your current relationships became better and better and you created new fulfilling relationships regularly?
10) What if you had a fabulous final segment of life, filled with joy, contribution and fulfillment?

 

Transforming Your Retirement: Recapture Dreams that Still Excite You

Dreaming new dreams as you are transforming your retirement is an invigorating process. (See http://carolbrusegar.com/transforming-retirement-dreaming-new-dreams/)

There are other dreams from other parts of our lives that may be worth rediscovering. Perhaps this is the time to make them come true. They may be ideas or possibilities that are big or small. They may be skills, hobbies or experiences or just things about which you want to learn.

What were your talents and interests as a child? What did you want to do and be when you grew up? Think back to childhood and see what you find, first in your elementary school years. Where was it? Imagine being there again – that will help you recall those things that may be so deep in your memory. For me, I attended a one-room school house in southern Wisconsin. There were around 30 students in 8 grades, all in one large classroom. I lived with my parents and two younger brothers in a large house on an acre of land just outside a small town. In that place and time, what you were interested in, what did you excel in, what hobbies or activities did you spend time doing? Do you remember wishing you could do something that wasn’t possible then but might be now? Jot down what comes to mind.

Move on into your high school and young adult years. Think about the same questions and jot down your answers. Are there any patterns? Is there anything that stirs up old emotions that you’d forgotten about? Particularly look for things that make you think, “I wish I had done that” or “I’d still like to do something with that.”

Now take a quick scan of your adult years and look for the discarded or submerged dreams and hopes. Make a list of things you had wanted or intended to do or be that didn’t happen. Alongside each item, write down one or more reasons that it didn’t happen. It could be a choice you made, or that someone else made for you. It could be that it just dropped lower on your priority list when you moved, or got married, or had children. Perhaps the resources to make it happen just weren’t available. Then look back and identify which ones still have appeal and pull at you.

As you look back at all of the items from the different parts of your life, are there some that still stir up a desire? What would it look like if you chose one or more of those interests, talents and dreams from earlier in your life and did something with it NOW? Perhaps you want to pursue them as you transform your retirement into a time of life you really enjoy.

Transforming Your Retirement: Dreaming New Dreams

What if….you could be, do, and have anything you wanted to during the next 20, 30 even 40 years of your life? Having those dreams is an important part of transforming our retirement. Sometimes it is difficult to do that kind of dreaming from the viewpoint of today. How about reversing direction to look  back at the coming years rather than forward?

Imagine being at the end of your earthly life. Look back from that perspective and think about what you hope to see. Perhaps these questions will open up some possibilities:

1) What memories do you hope those you love have of you?
2) What will your legacy be among a wider circle of friends, co-workers and acquaintances?
3) What are the things about which you will say: “I’m glad I did that”?
4) If you were composing a newsletter/newspaper about your life, what would the titles of the articles be?
5) What would want included if you were the subject of an article titled, “Local (wo)man celebrates 90th birthday and accomplishments of the past 30 years”?
What would it look like, sound like, feel like?

As I am transforming my retirement, I have these new dreams: to relocate to be near my daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren and develop a successful online business that will allow me to live comfortably, travel a great deal, and contribute to some of the causes and movements that I strongly support.

Part of the vision for my business is to build a network of incredible people who share how they’ve invented their lives after age 60, and who have a specific commitment to contributing to their community & the world. Can you imagine what a difference we can make? This isn’t a dream I could have had early in my life. It’s a result of being a teenager and young adult in the 60s and 70s, of living and working through the succeeding decades with expectations that each of us can make a difference. It’s possible because of technology that allows us to connect in ways we never dreamed of earlier in our lives.

Dreams, visions and goals are powerful. May they be a driving force as we are transforming our retirement into a joyous, significant part of our lives.

Transforming Your Retirement: Role Models Along the Way

We all have role models that influence us in each time period of our lives. We can learn from those people again as we are transforming our retirement. Before we look at the ones that are influencing us now and for the future, let’s start back in our childhood. The earliest recollection of stating that I wanted to be like a particular adult was saying that I wanted to be fat like Grandma Smith! I was about 6 at the time, and I succeeded in following that role model up until I started high school!

Perhaps your choices were less conscious and declared. They may have been positive or negative role models. Whatever they were, travel back mentally and pull out those childhood and teenage role models and make a list of them. What was it that attracted you to them? How did their examples affect your dreams and decisions as you grew up?

Who were your role models as a young adult, and what areas of your life did they impact? For instance, you might have had role models for job or career, relationship and parenting, spiritual matters, and others. Think about what you admired about them and wanted to emulate. Did you indeed follow their example?

You can do the same process with role models in the middle years of your life – later in your working years and family development. Some of these people may have drawn you away from the first set of role models as your life changed and you went in different directions.

Are they any of the role models from early or middle adult years still people you look to as guides? As you move into this next exciting phase of transforming your retirement, are there people who have something to teach you? Decide whose example you want to carry with you. For the other positive role models, bid them a fond farewell and express your gratitude for what they provided for you in the past! This can be a private thing for you, or you may choose to contact one or more of them who are still available. A message of gratitude from the past can be a treasure beyond measure to give to another person.

In addition to the gifts you find in past and current role models, I encourage you to look for some additional people who can inspire you in this new phase of life. As you continue the process of transforming your retirement by deciding what directions you want to go, you will be identifying those people.

Transforming Your Retirement: Forgiveness and Taking Responsibility

Without exception, people will disappoint us and hurt us. It’s impossible to avoid it. Holding onto anger and grudges because of that, however, is something we have control over. In the process of transforming your retirement into a joyous journey, you will find more freedom if you deal with this baggage. Maybe your anger goes back to childhood; maybe to yesterday. Regardless of the length of time, it is a negative pull from the past that can alter our potential future.

Perhaps you can identify and feel deep hurt and/or anger toward a parent or other person that goes back as far as childhood. Perhaps it is more recent. Whenever it was, you owe it to yourself to put it to rest. In some cases, seeking professional help would be most advantageous. Another option is to do some work yourself that can alleviate the damaging emotions. These steps can be used regardless of when the situation occurred.

First consider what you are gaining or what the ‘payoff’ is for you to hang onto this hurt or anger. This may require some deep thinking; so don’t rush through this first step. Here are a couple of possibilities; they may spur other thoughts. Perhaps someone else’s actions and the impact on you gives you a reason or excuse that things didn’t go as you wished for you after that. You may think, I would have done much better in my life if that hadn’t happened. Or perhaps you feel betrayed by someone for whom you gave so much. You may think, if I had given all I gave to you to someone else, my life would have been so much better. Find the ‘payoff’ for you.

Now ask yourself how you would feel if you could release your negative feelings related to this person or this situation?

And how would your relationship with (or memories of) this parent or other person change if you moved beyond these feelings? Take some time to imagine this.

Now make a choice: will you keep the benefits or ‘payoffs’ of hanging on or gain the benefits of forgiving and moving on?

A helpful way of choosing the benefits of forgiving and moving on is to write a letter to the person(s) involved. It may either be actually delivered or for your own use. The writing will be beneficial for you either way. Start out by describing the source of your anger and hurt. Be as specific as possible; get into the feelings and describe them. Then describe the impact that has had over the subsequent years. End with a statement something like, “I now choose to forgive you for that and forgive myself for not finding a way to resolve this earlier. I can’t change the past but I can choose to let it go and release the claim of that past situation on my future.”

If the person is alive and you feel it could be freeing to discuss this with them, do it. If you can’t or choose not to do this, either read it aloud as if you are speaking to that person. Claim that resolution and let go. Feel the freedom it provides as you continue the process of transforming your retirement into a joyous time of life.

Transforming Your Retirement: Mining the Gold In Your Life

Often in the rush of life we lose track of our accomplishments and some of our strengths. As we close out our career or employment life, it can be very helpful to reflect upon and celebrate some of the unique milestones, achievements, and strengths that have brought us to where we are today. This reflection can be a way to take inventory of what we carry into the new future we are designing for ourselves as we move into this next phase of life.  Transforming your retirement gets a jumpstart when you begin from a place of confidence and celebration.

First, celebrate accomplishments. Include job or career success and advancements, family joys, particular skills you have developed, contributions you have made to your community and beyond. Write a list of those accomplishments, read it, add more things that you think of and allow yourself to celebrate and appreciate.

Now let’s dig a little deeper to find and identify those threads of gold that run through your life. You will be looking for attitudes, skills and qualities that were demonstrated in some of your experiences. These are ‘gold’ that you bring into your next phase of life and cause for celebration as you are transforming your retirement. Here are three areas to look at; you may think of others as you do this.

1) Surviving hard times – Look at each period of your life – childhood, teen years and adulthood divided into 10 year segments up to the present. Identify hard times/challenges during each period. For each challenge you identify, think about the attitudes, skills, and qualities came into play as you went through that period.

2) Contributing to others, to your community and beyond – Look at the ways in which you have contributed through the years and again identify the attitudes, skills and qualities contributed to these accomplishments.

3) Having the courage to follow our highest aspirations/your “true” self, your heart. Usually these are significant turning points in our life history, so approach it chronologically by time periods in your life to identify them. You might call these your “courage mileposts”. It can be very enlightening to explore these times – what made you aware of that calling or aspiration, what conflicts arose when you moved in the new direction and how you resolved them, and what you learned by having the courage to follow your heart.

These strands of gold are precious elements that can help you move through the transitions of retirement and beyond. If you mine them and use them, you can enhance your coming years immensely as you are transforming your retirement.

Transforming Your Retirement: Dropping the Baggage You Drag Around

If you are approaching, beginning or in the midst of retirement, there is a great likelihood that you have some baggage that you could let go of. Few of us get to age 55 or more without some things that are weighing us down. Transforming your retirement into a joyful, productive time of life is much easier without the baggage. Taking some time now to think about that and make some decisions can greatly impact the quality of your days ahead.

REGRETS can be a powerful category of baggage. It’s nearly inevitable that we’ve missed opportunities (didn’t invest in that Microsoft stock when it was first offered?), had misplaced priorities (was work really more important than going to your kid’s graduation?), or made rash statements (how could you know it would be the last time you spoke to her?). Some things we may brush off, some we may remember them and learn from, some we may obsess about.

If there’s a nagging regret with guilt feelings that can bubble up with certain trigger thoughts or experiences, it’s worth spending the time to dig into that a bit deeper. If you ignore these regrets, they can hinder your journey of transforming your retirement. Here are some questions to help you come to peace with regrets and be less likely to create regrets that become obsessions in the future. These could be specific situations or incidents, or a pattern of behavior or activity or time.

Think about the situation, who was involved, what you specifically regret, and the choices you made or actions you took. Did you have other alternatives and what were they? And perhaps most important, what meaning are you giving to the impact of your words, actions or choices in this situation?

Now that you have a clearer picture, you can decide to let it go. Here are a couple of ways to do that. You might write a letter to the person(s) involved explaining what happened, why you did what you did (or didn’t do) and express what you regret. End with a statement of apology or whatever you want to express. You may feel moved to send or give it to those involved if it is possible. Or you may choose to take a symbolic action such as burning it or discarding it to end the power of these regrets in your life.

You can also write yourself a letter in which you forgive yourself and give yourself permission to let go of the pain and regret. You might include a statement of what you learned from this and what will be different because of it.

This process can free up energy and creativity for being and doing more of what you most want to do in these years in the process of transforming your retirement into a joyful time of life.

 

Transforming Your Retirement: Three Steps to Life-Giving Habits and Relationships in Retirement

Perhaps you do a lot of reflection and introspection routinely through journaling. If so, you may have looked at ruts, habits and routines that you have developed or fallen into. Perhaps as you are moving into a new phase of life, it will be helpful to reflect again. And for everyone else, this time of life is a very good opportunity to assess who we are, what we do and why, and to look to the future.

I invite you to think about 3 areas in which routines/habits/ruts may be impacting your life positively or negatively. Then you can determine if you want to continue in those directions, or if you would like to make some changes.

1) Looking at general ruts and habits. What’s totally predictable about your life?
– in daily routines
– in interactions with others
– in reactions to people and occurrences
– in choices of how to spend my time and money, what you eat and wear
Which of those do you want to continue and which would you like to change as you move into retirement?

2) Looking at family relationship ruts and habits.
You can start by identifying which family relationships you want to look at. The circle may be small – parents if they are still alive, siblings and their families, and children/grandchildren. You might include cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, even second cousins if they are meaningful relationships now. Then think about whether each of those relationships is static or changing. Why is that – by choice or default? If things continue as they are, what will that relationship be like in 5 years or 10 years? Is that okay or do you want to make some changes?

3)  Looking at relationships with friends.
You can ask the same questions about your circle(s) of friends. Especially as you move from employed to retired, work relationships will automatically change. This is a good time to look at which ones you want to continue and how that can happen. Will losing some of those work relationships leave a vacuum? If so, think about how you might find new relationships that will be satisfying in the future.